Thursday, January 14, 2016


Image description: A white charicature of a person is holding a magnifying glass that is larger than it is.
This morning I go to the shop to ride around in my wheelchair so that they can see what is wrong with my chair. It's a busy day for me and the stop at the shop makes the day even busier but, man, I really want my chair back and in full working order. I have this fear that the chair, like me waiting for the dentist only to find my toothache disappear in the waiting room, will work just fine under their watching eyes.

I also have an extreme dislike of going to do things like that and knowing that I'm going to be the centre of attention and scrutiny. I know this is weird because I am often at the centre of attention in a room. But there is a difference between that kind of structured attention than this kind of attention.

I'm not sure I can explain it but, I'm going to give it a try because I'd like to know if others have similar feelings. Difference brings with it the scrutiny of others. Being fat for many years and then fat and disabled for many more, my life has been lived at the other end of people's stares and comments and judgements. While I can sit in a room of 500 and give a lecture on a stage, I get all twisted inside if I have to get my chair through a crowded room at an exhibit.

I think because I become the exhibit.

I've been told, by a few people who choose to believe that this is all made up, that it's just in my mind. That people don't look, judge and then have a reaction in tune with that judgement. I might be convinced to believe them if so many of the reactions are verbal. I used to think that disability and difference gave people permission to intrude into and comment on the lives of those of us who dare to be in public spaces. I'm wrong of course, it's not disability and difference that causes this, it's power and privilege.

So, I'm sitting here knowing I'm going to be watched drive my chair by two or three people. I know, or I'm guessing, that while they are there to watch the chair perform, I will also be on display as well.

And I don't like it.

A bit.


Anonymous said...

I am cringing with you, Dave. Being the spectacle as a fat disabled woman vs. being the focus of attention as the professor is something I struggle with everyday. I hope the chair acts up during the period of scrutiny, and that it is repaired today!

clairesmum said...

Will be thinking of you today.

ABEhrhardt said...

Humans come in all sizes and shapes.

I don't like the same things you don't like: knowing that when people look at me, they see 'fat' and 'disabled' and probably judge.

But you know what: it isn't my choice! My body doesn't regulate properly - and the medical profession has NEVER been any help to those of us who are fat: they feed off of us, charge us heaps of money, get no results, and then blame US. Nice deal if you can get it. The only other people who get paid to be wrong most of the time are weathermen.

And they aren't doing so hot on helping us with the disabilities we acquire, either.

You already got a bad feeling from these people who don't have the sense to test a chair meant for a large person - with a large person! Or equivalent. Hope in person it goes far better - because we know our Dave is a charmer.

Gently but firmly put their attention back on THEIR product - which isn't working, and is THEIR responsibility to fix.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Dave, for pointing out the fact that people see,judge and feel free to let us know of the judgement against those of us who are larger than the "norm". My thin friends have been telling me for years that it's all in my head. I know it is not. Hearing confirmation that others experience this kind of b.s. confirms my suspicion that I am not just crazy or insecure.

Karry said...

I agree with every comment so far! You have awesome readers! :-)

wheeliecrone said...

Just having a disability - that alone is enough for people to stare and judge and often, explain what i am doing wrong.

Or what I am doing well.

With amazement.

Giving compliments on the way I drive my wheelchair. Because, after driving my chair all day every day for fifteen years, apparently I do okay.

And all the while, I am cringing inside and wishing there was a hole I could disappear into.

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness...I is NOT in your head. It is as real as the tread on your tires. Even though the chair is made for your needs and is designed to be an help for your size, you just know that someone in the room is thinking "If he wasn't so heavy the chair wouldn't be struggling". Oh, it is real for sure. It is a prejudice that is actually socially acceptable. It is totally different than being in front of a audience that have come to hear you and your expertise. Your weight becomes part of the package, and a bit of a non-issue except on how it may relate to your topic. Taken out of that environment, you bet you are being judged. I hope the experience will be better than expected and as a previous post said, let us hope the focus will be on the product and its function and serviced for a customer who has made a considerable effort to make their job easier.

Doniya Mary Thomas said...

Being a observer is easy for anyone and to judge the people is interesting.But when we come through those moments it is going to be tough for everyone to be observed and judged by someone.Audience where always a problem for me too. i just feel like blushing my face. shivering my hands loosing my confidence if i am being observed by someone. But the thing is, if we does nothing wrong for others or we do not want to be bothered for anything that we are not responsible. let the people observe how i am going to win in my life. Human nature is to look through a magnifying glasses always to others life. But they are also under somebody's observation. I feel so if i am dare to talk like this. But I am creating a clear self to me. I am glad to be so. This post made me to think in this way .Thank Dave for this.